VFR on an IFR day????!!!!
Recently I was flying a real instrument approach into Newberry Co. The weather was 600-800 ft broken, and that was verified as I flew down final to Rwy 22. The approach was uneventful, but what surprized the heck out of me was that someone was flying VFR patterns with an 800 ft ceiling.
Of course, I asked the question, "is that legal?" It is not something I would ever do, but in looking at the FAR's I think the answer is that it can be done. To understand this issue, you need to understand that KEOE (Newberry Co) is an uncontrolled airport with Class E stating at 700 ft AGL and Class G below that. The cloud clearance and visibility in Class G is clear of clouds and 1 nm visibility. You are in Class G at 700, as the FAR's say you are in the airspace below you when flying at a transition altitude (note, at 701 ft, you are in Class E where the cloud and visibility changes to 500 below, 1000 above, 2000 ft laterally from clouds and 3 sm visibility. So as long as the aircraft flying traffic patterns was 700 ft AGL or below and clear of clouds, he/she was legal. At 701 ft, he was not legal.
As I said above, I would not do this. Why? It is a simple fact that my power off gliding distance (figuring 8/1 ) at 700 ft (.12 miles) is someplace between .7 and 1.0 miles with a perfectly flown power off approach. Fly a suboptimal approach back to the runway and you are in the trees or some other off-airport landing site. This is the circumstance discovered on an IFR circling approach and it can be quite intimidating should you not fly it precisely. Simply put, you have zero margin for error should you have an engine malfuntion at 700 ft AGL.
So what is my conclusion? Legal, but dumb. That said my wife, who was flying with me, said "they just disappeared into the clouds" while we were refueling after my IFR landing. Violating the clear of clouds restriction in Class G airspace is not kosher! Perhaps 600 ft ceiling was closer to the truth.
There is NEVER a reason to fly on a day. with marginal weather. Make it your habit to wait for a better day! Have your personal limits of what you will acceot, And aways expect the unexpected as idiots are born every day!